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Putting up a good fight: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton big as Bruins overwhelm Capitals 03.16.13 at 3:40 pm ET
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Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin (35), stops Washington Capitals forward Jason Chimera during the first period. (AP)

Milan Lucic had a career-high three assists and Nathan Horton scored once, added two assists and had a fight for a “Gordie Howe hat trick” as the Bruins outmuscled the Capitals, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin stopped 32-of-33 shots for the Bruins, who won for the fifth time in six games and improved to 19-4-3, good for 41 points in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Penguins, who beat the Rangers Saturday afternoon.

Another Saturday, another quick start by the Bruins. One week after scoring three goals in five minutes against the Flyers, the Bruins scored twice in a three-minute span late in the opening period. Lucic skated behind Michal Neuvirth and fed Horton in the low slot from behind the net. Horton fired the shot pass the Caps goalie for the game’s first score.

Three minutes, three seconds later, it was Lucic again in the role of playmaker, as he centered a pass for David Krejci, who beat Neuvirth for a 2-0 lead.

Khudobin had a big first period, facing just eight shots but making several key saves to protect the lead, including a pair of stops on Alex Ovechkin and a glove save on Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals cut the Boston lead in half just 84 seconds into the second on a fluke goal. Johnny Boychuk played a puck to the left of Khudobin and the puck went right to Krejci, who tried passing it across the crease but the puck went through Khudobin for a Washington goal.

Moments after a great sprawling glove save by Khudobin on Nicklas Backstrom, Andrew Ference wristed a shot past Neuvirth for his first goal of the season and a 3-1 lead. The Bruins then established their physical presence in the game as Brad Marchand took exception with the play of Mike Ribeiro and beat him badly in a fight in the Bruins zone. That was followed less than a minute later by a bout in which Horton landed several blows to Matt Hendricks. Horton, with a goal, assist and fight completed the so-called Gordie Howe hat trick.

The Bruins iced the game on the power play, as Rich Peverley scored on a center from Lucic, just eight seconds after Jack Hillen was whistled for high sticking. Adam McQuaid handled Hendricks in another tussle at center-ice in the third period as the Bruins put away the win.

The Bruins outhit the Capitals, 35-24, on the day. The Bruins also increased their league-leading penalty kill, increasing their streak to 27 straight kills. They are 95-for-102 this season on the penalty kill.

The Bruins have little time to celebrate as they play in Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon, five days after allowing three goals in four minutes in a 3-2 loss Tuesday night.

For more from DJ Bean and Mike Petraglia at the Garden, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Alex Ovechkin, Anton Khudobin, Boston Bruins, Gordie Howe hat trick
Blown away: Bruins blow three-goal lead, lose in OT to Capitals 03.05.13 at 9:51 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton celebrates after scoring Boston's third goal that gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead in the first period. (AP)

Eric Fehr scored on a phenomenal rush up the slot just 37 seconds into overtime as the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Capitals, 4-3, in overtime Tuesday night at the Verizon Center. Tuukka Rask, who couldn’t protect the 3-0 lead, made 22 saves in the loss.

The Bruins lost their second straight game for the second time this season and fell to 14-3-3 on the season.

With Tyler Seguin in the penalty box serving a two-minute hooking penalty, Brad Marchand was hooked on a short-handed breakaway from behind by Alex Ovechkin and was awarded a penalty shot. Marchand beat Braden Holtby for a 1-0 lead at 6:29 of the first. It was the first short-handed penalty shot goal since Jan. 10, 2012 when Shawn Thornton scored against Winnipeg.

With the Bruins in control, they added a pair of goals 1:23 apart late in the first to make it a 3-0 game after one period. Zdeno Chara pinched down low in the offensive zone and snapped a shot past Holtby at 17:07. Then the Bruins capitalized on what appeared to be a questionable interference call on Ovechkin.

Just 15 seconds into the penalty, Dougie Hamilton fired a shot from the top of the slot through a partial screen. The puck found its way past Holtby and the Bruins had a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.

The Capitals, who came in winners of six of their last nine games, showed some resolve in the second period. Ovechkin found Mike Ribeiro on the low left circle in front of Rask. Ribeiro redirected the puck into the part of the net vacated by Rask at 5:46 of the second. Six minutes later, the Capitals made it a one-goal game when Tomas Kundratek fired one past Rask.

The Bruins had two golden chances to build on their one-goal lead in the third period but neither David Krejci nor Tyler Seguin could finish 3-on-1 breaks on Holtby.

Moments after Holtby turned aside Seguin, Fehr backhanded a pass from the mid-slot that deflected off the leg of Hamilton and found its way onto the stick of Wojtek Wolski, who beat Rask to tie the game, 3-3, with 6:05 left in regulation. The Bruins had one more great chance when Ovechkin was called for hooking with 2:27 left in regulation. But the Bruins managed just two shots on the power play and couldn’t get the go-ahead marker.

Then, in the opening moments of overtime, Niklas Backstrom took a puck in the neutral zone and backhanded a pass for Fehr, who streaked up the middle and beat Rask as he was falling to the ice for the game-winner. Fehr also finished with two assists on the night for the Capitals, who improved to 9-11-1.

The Bruins return to action Thursday night when they host the Maple Leafs at TD Garden. For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, Dougie Hamilton, Eric Fehr
Stitches and all, Zdeno Chara is ready for another Game 7 04.24.12 at 8:41 am ET
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After taking a high stick from Alex Ovechkin in the second period of Sunday’s win over the Capitals, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara resembles Frankenstein with a series of stitches right across the bridge of his nose. It could’ve been worse, and Chara knows it. Now, he can look ahead to Game 7 Wednesday night at 7:30 at TD Garden.

“I feel good,” Chara said. “Obviously, it’s been tough to have back-to-back games, both afternoon games but again, it’s the schedule, and we all have to get through it and now we have two days to recover and get ready for Game 7.

“You always hear that teams play for that advantage, to have Game 7 at home but at the same time, we just have to be ready to play our way, the full 60, and even more if it needs to be. It doesn’t mean just because we’re at home we’re going to have an easy game. We still have to win the game on the ice.”

Chara and the Bruins have been pushed to the limit in more ways than one against the No. 7 seed Caps. Every game has been decided by one goal, the first time in Stanley Cup history that the first six games of a seven-game series have been so close. Now, the Bruins are back in familiar territory, a Game 7. But don’t think for a minute that Chara and the Bruins necessarily drew it up that way.

“No, I don’t think that’s the way we meant it,” Chara said. “Those games are always tough to win. Everything can go right and everything can go wrong in those games. You just have to make sure everything you do is maximized to almost perfection because obviously that’s the game that decides if you play for another day or you’re done.

“It’s very close, very tight series. Every game decided by one goal just tells you it’s really been close.”

Chara also took time Monday to thank a teammate that has finally been recognized by the league for his ability to play both ways on the ice. Patrice Bergeron was one of three finalists named for the Selke Award, given annually to the best defensive forward in the game.

“I’ve been saying that for years,” Chara said. “He should’ve been nominated way before this year. He’s such a reliable guy to have on the ice. He plays all the situations. You can really count on him when he’s on the ice that he’s going to get the job done. It’s just a pleasure to have a teammate like that. He’s such a tremendous person and hard worker, and obviously a leader, there’s no question in my mind he should be the winner.”

Like Chara, Bergy knows what it’s like to play through pain and he appreciates that Bergeron is doing it again this year, suffering an upper body injury in Saturday’s Game 5 that limited him to one faceoff draw in Game 6.

“That’s the way it is at this time of year, everybody sacrifices and does whatever he can to help the team,” Chara said. “That’s just the way it is.He’s been doing that for years. He’s always playing against top lines. Whatever job or task you ask from him, he’s going to do that. Explain all the situations, it’s always huge to have someone willing to play defense first before the offense. Not too many guys take as much pride in it as Bergy does.”

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, Patrice Bergeron
Barry Pederson on M&M: Capitals play into Bruins’ hands by focusing on physicality 04.13.12 at 1:29 pm ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Mut & Merloni Friday to discuss Thursday night’s 1-0 overtime victory over the Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Pederson credits defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for coming up big with his physical play against Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.

“If we had any doubt that Seidenberg was going to take his game to the same level it was at last year in the playoffs, man, did he ever show that,” Pederson said. “He and [Zdeno] Chara I thought did a tremendous job on the Ovechkin line. Of course, they had the advantage of having [Patrice] Bergeron‘s line out there as well. And then [David] Krejci‘s line did a great job against [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Alexander] Semin.

“The Bruins were very solid physically. Defensively I thought they were tremendous. The game I didn’t think should have been as close as it was. I thought in the second period in particular, the Bruins on the power play, they had 4 1/2 minutes to start the second period, the power play, and then they had that 4-on-3 a full two minutes. To me, that’s where the game should have been put out of reach for Washington. They only had seven shots against after two periods. The Bruins let them hang around, then they needed Tim Thomas to kind of hold the fort for them in that third period.”

Added Pederson: “The Bruins’ strength, as we all know, is their defensive game led by Thomas and Chara and Seidenberg and the physicality that they bring. If Washington wants to play that way, that to me is playing right into the Bruins’ hands. When you see a player like Ovechkin trying to take a run at Seidenberg and Chara, you could just see that pairing just licking their chops, saying, ‘Come on, bring it on. If we can get you off that offensive game and get you thinking about playing physical, that’s an advantage to us.’ ”

The Bruins struggled Thursday on the power play, a reminder of the team’s problems in last year’s playoffs.

“They were just way too stationary,” Pederson said. “When you watch the replays of it, you can just see they’re all standing — if you envision a box, they’re at each corner of the box, with the three Washington defenders allowed to collapse, and nobody was in a scoring position. So, Washington is just saying, ‘Hey, keep the puck on the outside, that’s fine, our goaltender can see it, there’s no traffic in front, there’s nobody who’s a direct threat to us.’ I just thought they got way too stationary.

“When the Bruins power play looked a little bit better that latter part of the season into the final month, they were moving around. I especially remember [Rich] Peverly on the point on the power play was very active. They were dropping down. Seidenberg would be dropping down and getting involved and not just staying stationary, moving the puck to the point. Because one of the things I was very impressed with with Washington, especially in the first two periods, they were blocking a lot of shots. So, for the Bruins to be successful, they’re going to have to get those shots through. They’re going to have to get their defense involved a little bit more by pinching and by being active in the offensive zone.”

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Read More: Alex Ovechkin, Barry Pederson, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg
Milan Lucic is fully prepared for Dale Hunter and his ‘underachieving’ Capitals 04.11.12 at 9:22 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Milan Lucic was just four years of age in 1993 when Dale Hunter delivered one of the most notorious hits in Stanley Cup playoff history.

It was on April 28 that year when Hunter laid out Pierre Turgeon, after Turgeon had just scored the clinching goal for the Islanders late in the third period of the decisive Game 6 of their opening playoff round against Hunter’s Capitals.

Hunter was understandably ticked. But he inexplicably checked Turgeon from behind and into the side boards, separating his shoulder and knocking him out of the next round against the defending champion Penguins.

Hunter received a then-record 21 game suspension for the hit. Turgeon returned for the semi-finals against the eventual champion Canadiens after missing seven games.

Fast forward 19 years and Hunter is now coaching the Capitals in the first-round series against the defending champion Bruins. The Capitals – who finished with the best record in the NHL two seasons ago – were 42-32-8 but had to struggle to get into the playoffs this season in the final week, finishing as the No. 7 seed. That’s quite a change for a team that fired Bruce Boudreau early on this year because they were 12-9-1 and underachieving with names like Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.

“You can say the Capitals have probably underachieved a bit this year,” Lucic said of the Capitals, who actually won the season series against the Bruins this year, 3-1. “They have a lot of great players over there that can definitely do some damage. They’ve had some success against us this year. Season success and playoff success are two different things, which we’ve found out in the past. We know that they’re a great team and have a lot of great weapons and a lot of great players who can step up and be an impact in this series and I think that’s what’s going to make this a real challenging and hard-fought series for us.”

Hunter instilled a new dedication to physical play and no doubt realizes his finesse-laiden Capitals need to channel at least some of his toughness against the new Big Bad Bruins in order to have a chance.

“Especially playing under Dale Hunter, I’m sure they’re going to be real physical,” Lucic said. “They have some forwards that definitely will get in there and get dirty. Even a guy like Ovechkin is not afraid of the physical play and likes to use his body. It’s a way that they have success. For us, we have to do whatever we can to be physical and I think that’s what’s going to make it even a better series because both teams are going to go after each other.

“Part of our identity and part of our success is being physical, regardless of who we play so we have a game plan and we have a type of way we’re going to play and playing physical is one of the ways. We’re going to do everything we can to establish a forecheck and finish our checks and it’s important for us to do that.”

Lucic insisted the Bruins aren’t about to take the Capitals lightly and certainly place no significance on their No. 7 position in the conference.

“I think you definitely learn a lot,” Lucic said. “You can take from what you’ve done in the past and kind of use that experience, hopefully to your advantage. One thing that we did [this season] was that we never took anyone or any opponent for granted. Just because we’re second and they’re seventh doesn’t mean a thing right now. What happened last year is last year. This is a new year, new playoff. Everyone starts off at 0-0. It’s important for us to have a good start, come out strong and hopefully have a good game in Game 1.”

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Boston Bruins
Andy Brickley on D&C: Bruins over Capitals in six games at 9:03 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to go in-depth and discuss the Bruins’ upcoming first-round playoff series against the Capitals.

With so many different facets of the game that could come into play against a talented Washington team, Brickley said that one of the Bruins’ primary strengths, their third- and fourth-line productivity, will be tested against the Capitals, who boast a similar strength in that area.

“That’s how the Bruins play when they play their best and that is their expectation that that’s the way they’re going to play this year,” Brickley said. “I think that the fact that Washington may have gotten the better or was certainly equal to the Bruins in that area during the season series is why I’m kind of highlighting it.

“The Bruins’ third and fourth lines, because they were so good last year, are going to have to do it again. It’s good that they’re playing a team in the first round that will make them be very aware that they have to get the complete contribution from all 12 forwards.”

When asked to pick out a particular X-factor in the series, Brickley turned his attention to Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, someone he said can have a big impact on this series despite missing significant regular-season action.

“He missed three months with a concussion, came back at the end of the year, played four games, seemed to get better each game,” Brickley said. “But keep in mind that playoff hockey — the speed, the physical play, the way you win as you win in the dirty areas – and because everything is ramped up a lot, when you’re coming off a head injury and you miss that kind of time, I’m not so sure what they’re going to get from him because the Bruins are such a heavy team and I think that would be a concern for Washington.”

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Read More: Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas: ‘We just need everybody to be as good as they can be’ 04.10.12 at 6:17 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe Award for the most outstanding player of the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup title run. He was the man between the pipes as Boston became the first team ever to win three Game 7s en route to a Stanley Cup championship.

The man knows the pressure that comes with playoff hockey.

So, what’s the key to handling it?

For the answer, Thomas looked back to the 25th and final game of the team’s memorable run last spring in Vancouver.

“Before Game 7, when we were talking in the locker room, one of things we were saying as a team was, everybody was tired by that point,” Thomas recalled Tuesday, two days before he opens defense in Game 1 against the Capitals. “It’s a long playoffs. Everyone’s got bumps and bruises and more than bumps and bruises, and they’re tired.

“Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to come out and think we needed in Game 7 the best game of our lives, as a group we made a decision that we don’t need everybody to be better than they’ve ever been in lives before. We just need everybody to be as good as they can be and that will be enough to make us come out on top. So, that’s probably the same type of attitude we need to take this year.”
He thinks this team is talented enough to make a legitimate run at it again.”

As for handling Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, Thomas isn’t so worried about the Capitals coming in as underdogs as a No. 7 seed in the East. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Boston Bruins
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